Master of screwball comedy Peter Bogdanovich charmed audiences at the Venice film festival on Friday with his movie "She's Funny That Way", a delicious romantic farce with a star-studded cast.
Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston and Rhys Ifans star in the flick, which centres on a prostitute named Izzy (Britain's Imogen Poots) who dreams of becoming an actress.
Izzy get a lucky break when she meets a client -- Owen Wilson -- who has a soft spot for helping out women down on their luck.
An impish Owen, casual in navy trousers and pullover, told journalists at the world's oldest film festival that his character, a born romantic, was attracted to crazy women, but "being crazy isn't always a negative thing."
"Crazy in love can sort of be a nice thing, in that sense we're all crazy," he quipped, before heading off to dazzle screaming fans on the red carpet.
His character gives Izzy $30,000 (22,800 euros) to give up prostitution and try acting. What neither knows is he is directing the very Broadway show for which she will then audition.
Things get even more complicated when Izzy discovers the hapless director's wife (played by Kathryn Hahn) is also in the play.
An increasingly improbable intertwining of plotlines brings into the mix the wife's former romantic flame (Ifans), a terrible private detective, an infatuated judge and a neurotic therapist (played by Aniston) -- to uproarious results.
Director and actor Bogdanovich, of "The Last Picture Show" and "What's Up, Doc" fame, said the idea for his latest work came from his "Saint Jack" 1979 film.
"We used several real escorts in the picture. They wanted to stop being prostitutes and we gave them money to stop being call girls," he said.
"She's Funny That Way" is Bogdanovich's first feature-length film for 13 years, after a run of films which fared badly at the box office.
Part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors in the 1970s, he said the industry has lost its way "making prequels and sequels and cartoons."
"The great days of Hollywood aren't with us anymore, we're in a period of decadence. Today it's all about special effects, I'm so bored by them," he said.
Instead, what he longs for -- and received in Venice -- "is to go into the cinema and hear the audience laugh at something you did. It's the greatest gift you can give to a filmmaker."